* Number of customers switching up 16 percent in six months
* Competition body to decide on inquiry this week
LONDON, July 16 New rules making it easier for
Britons to switch banks resulted in a 16 percent increase in the
number of customers moving accounts in the first half of 2014,
the body overseeing the system said on Wednesday.
The new rules, introduced last October, ensure customers can
switch accounts within seven working days, with all outgoing and
incoming payments automatically transferred.
They are part of a range of measures designed to break the
dominance of Britain's five biggest banks - Lloyds Banking Group
, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays,
HSBC and Santander UK - which provide more
than three-quarter of all UK personal current or checking
"Competition is growing as existing providers are upping
their offerings and challenger banks are competing to attract
new customers," said Adrian Kamellard, chief executive of the
However, Richard Lloyd of consumer group Which? said the
rate of switching was not yet enough to transform the market and
called upon Britain's new competition body to take a closer look
at the industry.
The Competition and Markets Authority will publish the
findings of a preliminary investigation on Friday and may
recommend a full-blown inquiry into the sector.
The Payments Council, which is responsible for the account
switching service, said 592,695 accounts had been moved in the
six months to the end of June, compared with 511,139 in the same
period the year before.
The council said in April there had been a 14 percent rise
in the six months since the rules were introduced.
(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by David Holmes)